To leave law behind, you need to plan. Plan, structure, blueprint, prepare. Following your passion, doing what you love, leaping and the net will appear – all nice, and true and ideal and possible . . . with lots of planning.
When planning to leave the law, focus on four main questions:
1. Why am I doing this? Again, let’s make sure you are being true to yourself and not fooling yourself and really exploring leaving law for the right reasons. And not because you may find yourself in a bad patch or because it seems all of your friends have gone in-house lately or because you feel it’s no longer cool to be a lawyer. The critical thinking must continue.
2. Who am I doing this with? Talk to others. To those that this decision would affect. It’s your life and your passion and your goals of course, but they may be shared by others, or others may be affected by them.
3. What resources am I doing this with? Besides health issues, there is no anxiety more difficult, gut wrenching or harder to take than that related to money . . . in particular your savings dwindling and possibly running out. Avoid planning and forecasting your cash flow and reserves in your head or in pencil on a back of an envelope. Take this seriously, real seriously. Use Excel or some other financial program and spend the time to truly, seriously plan what you can and cannot afford to do. It will take time, and be daunting, and possibly cause you to reconsider to leave law, but it’s invaluable, up-front homework.
4. How long will I be doing this? I like to say “forever”. Leaving law becomes a lifetime obsession, ambition and adventure. To be less dramatic, at least plan for the long haul. It may take you 12 to 18 months before you have even lined up the courage, resources and structure to actually leave. And then once you leave, there are many other unknowns and variables. While this may seem daunting, it is also beautiful: You have a lot of time, you are not rushed, let the pieces fall into place. Living by your passion and doing what you love as your goal may lead people to think you’re crazy or spontaneous, but what following your dream really means is following a well thought out, passion inspired, plan.
Once you realize that there is a discernible structure in leaving law, full of logical, oftentimes conditional elements, you can actually see, a bit ironically, that leaving the law is in perfect alignment with the legal education you have worked so hard to attain.